In case you (somehow) missed it, this month Instagram dropped a new and TikTok rivalling feature: Instagram Reels. 

Amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic (a universal hiatus that has changed the way we work with, live amongst and interact with one another), people the world over are embracing new and accessible modes of communication; consuming more news, information and content than ever before.

Capitalising on this mass trend? Basically any (and all) social platforms you can think of: from new kids TikTok… all the way through to OG’s like YouTube. It seems only fitting thus for social giants: Instagram to partake in the tech-party, with the launch of their new and click-baity feature: Instagram Reels.

“Instagram Reels are essentially the platform’s take on the wildly popular TikTok app,” shares Melbourne Hair Blogger and social guru Nicole Healy. “We all know when Instagram releases a new feature… And we all go wild over it! I personally think this is the biggest thing to drop since in Instagram Stories in 2017!”

Dropped to the platform earlier this month, Instagram’s answer to TikTok similarly boasts a user-friendly interface, plenty of customisable edit options and 15 second clip increments; shorter than your standard feed post – but just as punchy.

“You may be thinking this type of video content is just for Gen Z dance routines, however there is so much value in this for brands; what with the amount of possible exposure and brand awareness, [targeting] not only those who follow you, but new people too. It’s a great way to expand your brand’s reach,” she adds.

For those yet to experiment, what exactly are Instagram Reels? According to Instagram, Reels are ‘a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram’, inviting users of all experience levels and interests to ‘record and edit multi-clip videos – with audio, effects and new creative tools’. Simple enough.

Much like TikTok – which saw an unprecedented boom in both celeb and mass user engagement during lockdown’s initial months – users can share their edited creations privately with their followers or (for those with a public account) make each clip available for mass circulation across the wider Instagram community.

Thereby creating more opportunities for brands and salons to expand upon their reach and potential costumer base. Reels’ readily accessible, micro clips are easily digestible for all audiences. What’s more, you can also leverage pre-existing content, so those additional, often times disregarded snippets can now find a new digital home.

Which opens up a whole new world of possibilities for content enthusiasts, creatives and business owners alike. Explore page here we come…

“Sure, you’ll still see users sharing dance videos, lip-syncing, mimicking and parodies (Editor’s Note: All the typical hallmarks we’ve come to expect from TikTok) but this is also your chance to bring value, and start educating an audience on Instagram,” continues Nicole. “A chance to build your business up.”

“Reels have the huge potential to help grow your community. You don’t need to start practicing dance routines with your team (unless you want to!); begin by creating videos that are easily digestible and fun to watch. Think of creative ways to show off new products, tour your salon or share daily 15 second vlogs!”

How do Reels work? Reels may be recorded live in serial segments or uploaded/edited using video content from your smartphone’s gallery. To record, simply press and hold the capture button, paying close attention to the progress indicator at the top of your screen. To end each clip, simply release to cease recording.

Once you’ve recorded or uploaded your video content, it’s time to edit; a relatively easy endeavour given the feature’s functionality. Creative editing tools include Audio (either original or as chosen from Instagram’s music library), AR Effects, Timer and Countdown, Align (for seamless clip transitions) and Speed variation.

Sharing your Reels: Once your Reel is ready, make your way to the share screen. Here you can save as draft, change your cover image, add your caption and/or hashtags and any additional tags. Videos can be accessed through the Reels tab on your profile. You can also share a snippet to your feed for more visibility.

As per Instagram, ‘whether you have a public or private account, you can share your reel to your Story, close friends, or in a direct message. If you do so, your reel will behave like a regular Story — it will not be shared to Reels in Explore, it will not appear on your profile, and it will disappear after 24 hours.’

Our thoughts: Much with all social media; it’s all about how you leverage the platform. While 15 seconds may at first seem limiting, it presents an opportune time in which to grab your viewer’s attention; thereby growing your brand or salon’s social footprint and directing traffic back to your main feed or home page.

While we wouldn’t suggest Reels for long-form education videos, how-to’s or opinion pieces; the new feature is perfect for providing followers and potential clients with a quick, easily digestible morsel of both your brand and any other longer content pieces or activity you’ll likely be sharing.

A micro-snippet that, if well executed, should be enough to inspire a second look…

For a more thorough breakdown, watch Nicole’s How-To below:

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